Massachusetts officials on Friday urged more schools to return to full, in-person instruction, saying that only communities with the highest COVID-19 rates should be using any form of remote learning.

From a story reported on by Western Mass News, previously, schools were told to shift between remote learning, in-person learning, or a mix of the two depending on their area's infection rate.

However, Governor Baker said recently at a news conference that there's growing evidence that schools are not a significant source of spread and that keeping students at home hurts their learning and mental health.

Baker said, "We continue to see too many communities with children learning in remote-only models. We all know that losing a week, a month, a quarter or more in the life of a kid’s education has real consequences.”

Baker cited state data showing that out of 450,000 public school students attending in-person learning in one form or another, there have been only 252 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Under new guidance outlined by education officials, schools in areas of low and moderate risk will be expected to teach fully in-person.

Even communities with high rates are told to consider a hybrid model rather than going fully remote.

Massachusetts' Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley said, "The time to get kids back to school is now.”

The state also announced changes to the way it assigns color-coded risk levels to cities. The colors were previously based on an area’s average virus rate. Now, the levels will take other factors, including the city's population, into account.

For more on the story, check out Western Mass News' website here.

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